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Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up (Paperback)

Head in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up By William Poundstone Cover Image
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The real-world value of knowledge in the mobile-device age.

More people know who Khloe Kardashian is than who Rene Descartes was. Most can't find Delaware on a map, correctly spell the word occurrence, or name the largest ocean on the planet. But how important is it to fill our heads with facts? A few keystrokes can summon almost any information in seconds. Why should we bother learning facts at all?

Bestselling author William Poundstone confronts that timely question in Head in the Cloud. He shows that many areas of knowledge correlate with the quality of our lives -- wealth, health, and happiness -- and even with politics and behavior. Combining Big Data survey techniques with eye-opening anecdotes, Poundstone examines what Americans know (and don't know) on topics ranging from quantum physics to pop culture.

Head in the Cloud asks why we're okay with spelling errors on menus but not on resumes; why Fox News viewers don't know which party controls Congress; why people who know "trivia" make more money than those who don't; how individuals can navigate clickbait and media spin to stay informed about what really matters.

Hilarious, humbling, and wildly entertaining, Head in the Cloud is a must-read for anyone who doesn't know everything.

About the Author

William Poundstone is the author of fourteen books -- including Rock Breaks ScissorsAre You Smart Enough to Work at Google?How Would You Move Mount Fuji?, and Fortune's Formula, which was Amazon Editor's pick for the number one nonfiction book of the year. He has written for the Believer, the EconomistEncyclopaedia BritannicaEsquireHarper'sHarvard Business Review, the New York Times op-ed page and Book Review, and Village Voice. Follow Poundstone on Twitter (@WPoundstone) and learn more at his website,

Praise For…

"True fact: People who read Poundstone's extraordinary books are smarter (and happier) than people who don't."
Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception

"This breezy, pop-research overview of the decline of basic knowledge in the age of information overdrive could provide plenty of nuggets for journalists and hand-wringers over how many more millennials are familiar with the Kardashians than Descartes and can't name a single South American novelist or locate most African countries on a map."—Kirkus Reviews

"A lot of fun."
Rebecca Schinsky, Book Riot

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316256520
ISBN-10: 0316256528
Publisher: Little, Brown Spark
Publication Date: June 6th, 2017
Pages: 352
Language: English